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Lions' Week 4 Offensive Grades

Read more on the Lions' offensive grades after their Week 4 loss to the New Orleans Saints

Through the first four weeks, it's fair to say the Lions' defense has performed as many thought it would: Poorly. 

Undoubtedly more surprising has been the ineffectiveness of the offense, including the team's longtime franchise passer in Matthew Stafford. 

Going into the season, many fans and pundits alike thought Stafford could be a dark-horse MVP candidate, based off his high level of productivity in eight games a season ago. 

But, boy, nothing has been further from the truth for Detroit through the first four games this season. 

Here are the grades for the entire offense after the Lions' Week 4 loss to the New Orleans Saints. 


Make no mistake, the defense was the main culprit in Sunday's loss, allowing 35 unanswered points on five consecutive drives to Drew Brees & Co. 

However, as has been the case for the majority of this season, Stafford wasn't good enough. 

He barely completed over 50 percent of his passes (17-of-31 passing), and finished with a season-low 206 yards through the air, to go along with an interception for the third time in four weeks.

Additionally, he consistently underthrew his receivers -- i.e. on his deep-pass attempt to Marvin Hall midway through the fourth quarter -- and held onto the ball for too long, albeit some of that can be attributed to great coverage from Saints defenders down the field. 

Still, Stafford didn't help out the cause nearly enough, and through a quarter of the season now, has looked nothing like the MVP-caliber passer that Lions fans saw through eight games a year ago. 

Grade: D+

Running backs 

Adrian Peterson clearly continues to be relied upon as the No. 1 running back in Motown. 

While the veteran back has been good in doses through four games this season, he wasn't very impressive on Sunday against the Saints. 

He finished with 36 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

The only notable positive from A.P. was his five-yard TD rush in the fourth quarter, during which he bulldozed defenders on his way to the end zone.

Despite being 35 years old, the future Pro Football Hall of Famer still clearly has some fresh legs. And he is far from a problem for the Lions. 

However, it's mind-boggling that the offensive gameplan continues to feature him as the lead back. 

On top of that, he nearly doubled the combined rush attempts of Kerryon Johnson (three rushes) and D'Andre Swift (four rushes) -- two recent second-round draft picks of the franchise. 

That shouldn't be happening, especially when you consider the fact the Lions appear to be on the verge of missing the postseason for a fourth consecutive campaign. 

In other words, they aren't going anywhere with Peterson receiving the bulk of the carries.

At this point in his career, he's a No. 2 back whose biggest asset should be as a mentor to Johnson and Swift. 

Johnson and Swift need to be receiving more reps on a weekly basis, and it needs to start with Detroit's Week 6 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Grade: C 

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Wide receivers/tight ends 

The catch of the day belonged to veteran tight end Jesse James. 

It came at the start of the second quarter, when he went up for a ball simultaneously with Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins and managed to grab the ball out of Jenkins' hands for a 31-yard gain. 

It accounted for James' lone catch of the afternoon, but it prevented a Stafford interception and looked really good when watching it both in real time and on replay.

Kenny Golladay, meanwhile, caught four of Stafford's passes for 62 yards and a score -- although it's worth noting he was targeted a total of eight times by Stafford. 

Another positive among Detroit's receivers was the play of Swift. 

The rookie running back hauled in four balls on four targets for 30 yards and a score.

The onus is now on Lions offensive play-caller Darrell Bevell to get him more involved in the passing game moving forward.

Those were the highlights for Detroit's pass-catchers in Week 4. 

The most glaring negative was the lack of targets for Marvin Jones Jr., who was playing in his 100th career NFL game.

He was targeted just twice, and hauled in one ball for nine yards.

How does he go a whole game and get thrown to only twice?

Not a good look for Bevell or Stafford. 

Then, there's tight end T.J. Hockenson, who caught just two balls for nine yards, although one of those catches went for a TD in the red zone.

It was a season-worst performance for "Hock" in terms of both receptions and yards.

It'll be interesting to see if Stafford connects with the second-year pro more in the team's contest with the Jaguars after the bye week. 

Grade: B-

Offensive line 

Stafford was seemingly pressured all day long -- some of it a result of him holding onto the ball too long.

But, it still was far from a pretty performance from the Lions' offensive line. 

It allowed Detroit's franchise passer to be sacked three times and to be hit another seven times. 

Tyrell Crosby proved to be no match for New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan on one of the sacks -- which, in Crosby's defense, has been the case for plenty of offensive linemen throughout Jordan's career. 

The other noteworthy stat is that rookie guard Jonah Jackson committed a false start penalty on a second-and-7 play late in the fourth quarter. 

Grade: C-

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